A Picture of Courage

Jennifer NolinWinkler’s art has been gracing the pages of a Special Olympics calendar year after year, helping raise funds for the organization. Special Olympics gave Jennifer a chance to participate in sports and hear the cheers of fans and she has been sharing her talent because she wants to help reach more athletes like her.

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Art by Special Olympics athlete Jennifer NolinWinkler. SEE SLIDESHOW

The Joy of Sports

Jennifer NolinWinkler comes from an athletic family. Mom Pat wanted to make sure that her daughter had opportunities to play sports and have fun. When Jennifer was little, Pat organized and coached a baseball team inclusive of girls of all abilities. Everyone got a chance to play and Coach Pat’s only rule was no negative talk about fellow players. 

From there, Special Olympics was a natural progression for Jennifer and over the past fifteen years she has participated in soccer, softball, basketball, bowling, and volleyball. She hopes one day soon to take part in an equestrian event with her horse, Alabama. Pat says that participating in Special Olympics is a chance for her daughter to be with friends, practice, have fun, and enjoy a sense of normalcy.


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Jennifer’s family was there to cheer for her at Summer Games.

Champions in All of Us

Pat says that Special Olympics offers Jennifer “the best days of her life.” It is not about winning or losing, it is about inclusion, acceptance, and friendships. “Special Olympic has given her so much to be thankful for. She gets to go places and be cheered on by friends, and even referees, to participate, meet wonderful people.”

The entire family avidly supports Jennifer and Special Olympics. Jennifer’s parents are always at events, cheering for the athletes and volunteering. Jennifer’s brother, Michael, has been coaching soccer and basketball at Special Olympics for the past ten years and that’s where he met his girlfriend who is also a volunteer coach.


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Jennifer’s art helps raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics. She wants more athletes to experience the joy that participation in Special Olympics gave her.

Transformation Within

For Jennifer, Special Olympics has been a source of inspiration and she admires Eunice Kennedy Shriver for starting a movement that has changed so many lives, including her own. Special Olympics gave Jennifer the courage to try many new things, including her true passion -- painting.

Jennifer enjoys painting landscapes, flowers, and even portraits. Her work has appeared in art shows and galleries. She wants to use her talent to help others, donating her artwork to causes and teaching beading to veterans and their families. For the past five years Jennifer has been providing artwork free of charge to illustrate Special Olympics calendars and cards.


Help Us Reach More Athletes

Special Olympics transformed Jennifer NolinWinkler’s life, bringing her joy, acceptance, and confidence. Your support is vital, help us reach one more athlete like Jennifer. Donate today.

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Power of Sports

Sports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.
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Special Olympics Blog

A Powerful Prescription

"Physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug."read more »

Posted on 2014-05-06 by Healthy Athletes

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